Either the Birmingham News’ Jon Solomon’s sources are misleading him, or the Southeastern Conference Presidents are displaying a sickening degree of hypocrisy by suggesting that the league can “do better” than adding Missouri.
The current Big 12 Missouri Tigers’ Board of Curators voted late Tuesday to authorize Chancellor Brady Deaton to explore conference membership options.
According to the sources cited in Solomon’s column, Missouri enjoys majority support for a bid to join the SEC, but that support falls short of the nine votes needed. My own information differs only slightly from what Solomon was told—that Mizzou would be welcome in the league so long as the 14-team divisional alignment preserves the traditional rivalries of Alabama vs. Auburn, Alabama vs. Tennessee, Auburn vs. Georgia, Georgia vs. Florida, etc. This would mean placing Texas A&M and Missouri (or whoever the potential 14th member is) in separate divisions and leaving the remaining conference members in their respective divisions. This, I am told, is the position of the University of Alabama and others as well. If adding Missouri means pushing Auburn or some other SEC West school into the East division, support in the league falls and not only would it be short of the three-fourth’s majority, getting even a simple majority would be a coin flip.
The conference isn’t putting a Mizzou application to a vote of the Presidents unless somebody has counted the votes and they know it will pass.
But the notion that the league can “do better” than Missouri just reeks with hypocrisy. Currently, the league has only two members of the prestigious Association of American Universities—Florida and Vanderbilt. The addition of Texas A&M brings that to three, and Missouri would make it four. If academics count for something in consideration of conference expansion, how do you do better than adding an AAU member?
Missouri may not be the ideal fit geographically but it is at least acceptable—the state borders three states with existing conference members in Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas. Here’s a map courtesy of Mizzou2SEC.com, a fan website established to promote the addition of the school as the 14th member.
Mizzou also makes sense from a media marketing standpoint—adding the potential to penetrate the St. Louis and Kansas City markets and adding another six million people to the potential media demographic.
Could the SEC “do better?” Perhaps, but only by hunting on posted ground and luring a member of an existing BCS automatic qualifying school. But if we restrict the candidates to only AAU members, it’s hard to make the argument that they’d be doing better. From the ACC, candidates would include Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland and Virginia. From the Big East, candidates would be limited to Rutgers and Pitt. Which of those six schools are comparable in geography, market potential and demographics?
Duke and Virginia.
I’ll let that sink in a moment.
If the SEC Presidents decide to relax the requirement of AAU membership and poach one of the non-AAU members in the ACC or Big East with more football earnings power, aren’t they guilty of the hypocrisy we smell in Solomon’s column?
Exit Question: Do you really believe the SEC is comfortable with 13 members for any length of time?